Spending time with your family on vacation is by far the best way to make long-lasting memories that will strike conversations for years to come. Why not show your family how spectacular Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior can be for a fun adventure.
Odds are you're going to run into Duluth before hitting the scenic highway 61. You might as well stop into Canal Park for lunch at one of the many restaurant options and stretch your legs with a walk on the pier. Canal Park Brewery has excellent views while dining indoors or outdoors. Grandma's and Little Angies have great menus for kids and Northern Waters Smokehaus or Lake Avenue Cafe are great options for the adults. Canal Park has dine-in or takeout options for everyone's tastes.
After a nice pitstop in Canal Park it's off to the scenic highway but first, consider a quick stop right before the exit to check out Brighton Beach. The views alone are worth a stop but this is always a great spot to get close to the water for rock skipping or a chilly dip in the lake - kids don't seem to be phased by the frigid temps. This is also a great location for a picnic if you decided to stretch your legs in Canal Park and not eat.
Make sure you take the scenic route instead of the freeway. You'll enjoy more lake views and it will lead you right into the town of Knife River where you can make a candy refueling stop at Great Lakes Candy Kitchen! Grab some deliciously chewy tafe for the kids so you can enjoy a quiet ride all the way up to Two Harbors.
While in Two Harbors you might as well stop at The Duluth and Iron Range Depot Museum for a brief history lesson. Then head over to the Two Harbors Lighthouse to walk out onto the 2,500 feet breakwall - who needs a boat when you can get that far out on the water!
Once you get on the road past Two Harbors start filling up your lungs with air you'll need it for when you hold your breath and make a wish going through the Silver Creek Cliff Tunnels - good luck on the second tunnel!
Finally, when you see the giant ladder golf game you've made it to your home away from home Grand Superior Lodge. I'm sure it will be a struggle to check-in before allowing the kids to start up a game of oversized ladder golf.
If you haven't already make sure you have a Minnesota State Parks Pass. You can always pick one up once you get there or ask the front desk they might be able to help you out.
First stop: Gooseberry Falls State Park located just 2-miles from the resort. The middle, upper, and lower falls are all easily accessible by stroller along hard-paved walkways. The visitor center and gift shop area at the entrance. The falls are a fun place to wade and explore the water on a nice day - although careful supervision is needed for children. There are plenty of small hiking loops that are young children friendly. Pro Tip: Pack a bag lunch or get takeout sandwiches from Grand Superior Grill to enjoy at the Agate Beach pavilion.
Second stop: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park - Located on a 130-foot cliff on the rocky coast of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse is an intact 1910 light station that guided ships across the often stormy waters of western Lake Superior. Explore the 25 acres, historic buildings, and quarter-mile hike to the lakeshore at the bottom of the cliff. Again, this spot gets you close to the lake for some competitive rock skipping.
Dinner time: With many of the family units there are full kitchens with dining space to be enjoyed for a traditional family dinner. An easy choice of course if you're not up to the cooking challenge is to dine-in or takeout from the onsite restaurant. Another great option is the Rustic Cafe located across the street. If they're too busy you can still stop in for some homemade treats to go.
If your kids are early risers and a little older make an effort to check out a spectacular sunrise at Palisade Head - it will stop your heart. It is a spectacular overlook cliff, a steep climb if the gates are closed, and if you are scared of heights (or have wild children), you can stay in the parking lot and still see for miles. Be extremely cautious exploring, the cliff is a deadly fall, and there are no safety railings. If that gives you too much anxiety just peak out your window or pop down to Grand Superior's shoreline and you'll still get a worthy sunrise over Lake Superior!
Next up: Tettegouche State Park. From the visitor center, hike the lakeside cliffs to the end of Shovel Point for soaring views over Lake Superior. Nature lovers adore the Baptism river hiking trail to view many falls and cascades, including High Falls, a 60-foot waterfall.
If you still have more adventure in the tank head to North Shore Adventure Park in Silver Bay. They offer five levels of difficulty with six different ropes courses and ten zip lines! The little rascals playground for ages 3-6 is a safe challenge for the little ones.
The two full North Shore days will get you thinking about extending your stay. At the very least it will get you thinking of planning another trip to see these fascinating places in different seasons - Lake Superior has many moods and is never the same each time you go. From winter fun, wave watching, to summer bliss, there is always something to experience on the shore. Pro Tip: if you book a future stay at check-out you can often get a discount!
Before leaving town fill up on a hearty breakfast whether that is in your unit or at the restaurant. Nothing is worse than hangry kids or spouses in the car ride home!